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5 Questions You Should Ask About Medical School Debt

Most medical students expect to incur debt by the end of their education. Depending on the amount of money you owe, the debt can be a source of stress and may influence your career choices.

While you can’t control costs such as tuition fees, you can better manage your debt by learning more about budgeting, borrowing and strategies for lowering debt.

The answers to the questions below will tell you five things you might not know about medical school debt.

1. How much debt do medical students graduate with?

The median debt of medical school graduates is $100,000, with 42% of students reporting a debt of $120,000 or greater, according to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

2. How much can I borrow for medical school?

Most students start with student loans from the federal government and/or their provincial or territorial governments. The maximum amount you can borrow depends on your circumstances. Medical students who require more financial assistance can also get a line of credit from a financial institution, which typically ranges from $275,000 to $350,000.

3. What kind of information do financial institutions have about me and my debt?

Whenever you apply for a loan, you give the financial institution permission to access your credit report, which is a personal credit history that tracks your financial activities and personal financial habits.

The credit report includes details such as when you opened your bank accounts, whether you make your payments on time and whether you have missed payments. If your credit history is poor, you may have difficulty getting a loan or mortgage or renting an apartment or house. It may also result in you having to pay higher interest rates.

You can obtain your report once every six months from Equifax Canada or TransUnion, either online or by mail.

4. How can I lower my debt during medical school?

Here are some practices that will help you manage your expenses and minimize debt during medical school:

  • Start by developing an annual budget, estimating your costs and potential income.
  • Try to stick to your budget as closely as possible.
  • Borrow only the amount you need, to help you avoid overspending.
  • Try to minimize the interest that will accumulate on your line of credit by properly timing your withdrawals.

5. Can I have any of my student loans forgiven?

Canada: The Government of Canada offers forgiveness of Canada Student Loans to eligible family doctors, residents in family medicine, nurse practitioners and nurses who work in rural or remote communities. If you’re a family doctor or resident in family medicine, the federal government will forgive up to $8,000 per year for a maximum of five years, or $40,000, if you’re eligible.

Find out more about the eligibility requirements, application process and locations of communities designated for Canada Student Loan forgiveness for family doctors and nurses.

British Columbia: If you’re a medical resident or physician with a B.C. student loan, you can have your loan forgiven — up to a maximum of 20% per year for up to five years — if you work in certain facilities in underserved B.C. communities. See the B.C. Loan Forgiveness Program for details.

For more information about debt management or other financial planning topics, contact an MD Advisor*. MD offers objective advice at every stage of your career — from medical school through retirement. Find an MD Advisor near you.


* MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.